Fishy photographer: Mark Lance

Published Feb 21st 2012

The visual stories around fly fishing are worth telling.



Mark Lance is a Colorado based photographer whose beautiful and varying images can be found on his web site River Light Images, but are also used commercially in catalogs, ads and brochures. We approached Mark to have him tell about his ventures into fly fishing photography.

How did you start photographing - and what made you choose fishing related photos in particular?
I goofed around with photography in high school using my father's camera, shooting random stuff on family vacations, backpack trips, ski trips and such. In college I worked for the school paper and yearbook. I spent hours in the darkroom developing B&W. I have always spent a great deal of time outdoors in various activities and sports. Photography has always been part of that.
Things took a more serious turn years later on a fly fishing trip with my wife. She hooked and landed a spectacular rainbow, somewhere in the 25" range. I proudly grabbed a snapshot with a mediocre point-n-shoot camera from that era. I was so disappointed in the printed version of that photograph. I vowed then and there to raise the bar. The visual stories around fly fishing are worth telling.

Do you have a particular subject, region or a style of pictures that you mainly shoot or are you more all-round?
I would say that 99% of my time behind a camera is focused on capturing compelling images that tell the story of environment, travel and lifestyle surrounding fly fishing. Getting a shot of that decisive moment or of spectacular light drives me just as much as deceiving a fish with fur and feathers.
Living in Colorado and being relatively close to the rivers of Wyoming, Utah and Montana make it a natural to shoot fly fishing here in the west. Fly fishing and photography take me to some very cool places outside the US, too. I get really charged up to see new landscapes.
I can't say that I have a particular photographic style. If I do have a style, I am not able to articulate it. I am not really searching for, or setting up a photograph with a unique style in mind. When a cool shot presents itself I just try to grab it.
When a cool shot presents itself I just try to grab it.

Blue skies and mountains

Where are your photos used? Books, magazines, brochures, ads, web sites, prints, gallery exhibits or other places?
My photography is typically used for commercial or editorial assignments. I am quite fortunate to work with many great companies in the fly fishing industry. and my pictures are published mostly in fly fishing magazines and in equipment manufacturer or lodge brochures and advertisements. My work is also on the cover of three fly fishing books.

Each project is different, and that continually drives me to see the fly fishing world in new and creative ways. I am very pleased to have been invited recently to display my work at the Anthology Fine Art Gallery in Denver. It is a pleasure to exhibit alongside fellow fly fishing photographers. There are many truly talented fly fishing photographers out there right now. It is a great time to be a photographer.

Is photography your main source of income - if at all a source of income - and do you do other jobs as a supplement?
Let's just say that I hope for photography to be the main source of income someday. It's not paying all the bills just yet.
Let's just say that I hope for photography to be the main source of income someday

Fish and fly

Can people buy your pictures and if so, then in which form and where?
I invite folks to peruse the galleries on my web site, then contact me if they have an interest in purchasing publishing rights or fine art prints. Most of my work is purchased by editors and art directors. I deliver high resolution digital images in any number of file sizes and formats, and provide low-res comps on request. People can also order archive quality fine art prints, framed or unframed, in just about any size for the home or office. I prefer to work directly with a potential client rather than through an automated online fulfillment provider. This way I can customize and oversee the quality of print requests.

Mark himself

Where do you currently live and work?
I live in Centennial, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. You are more likely to find me knee deep in a brawling Colorado freestone, behind drift boat oars on a Montana river, hiking above timberline in search of native cutthroats, or thrashing through willows to reach beaver-pond brookies. I am the fellow with a camera dangling precariously around his neck. I travel out of the USA a couple of times a year for fly fishing and photography. The new scenery and cultures of global assignments are very inspiring.

What's in your bag? Preferred cameras, bodies, lenses and other gear?
I shoot a Nikon D3 and a Nikon D2x for a backup body. Lenses include:
50mm f1.4 prime
17-35mm f2.8
24-70mm f2.8
70-200mm f2.8
SB-800 strobes
Polarizing filter
Split neutral density filter

Marks work can be found on his web site River Light Images and he can be contacted through email.
Depending on where I am shooting I try to keep this gear safe and dry with any of the following: Patagonia Great Divider or Patagonia Storm Front pack, Arcteryx Arrakis 50 backpack, various Pelican boxes.
I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to manage my stock image library and for post processing.

There is a ton super camera gear out there these days. Shoot what you've got in your bag or pocket. Compelling imagery starts the guy behind the camera, not from any particular brand or piece of equipment.

On the river

More Fishy Photographers
These are the shooters we have featured:
Your photos too?
Are you an enthusiastic fly fishing photographer? Pro, semi-pro, amateur? We don't care as long as your pictures are good and get around.
Let us know. Contact Martin through mail and your work can become a part of the Fishy Photographers series.

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